Social Media Marketing

How Instagram Has Taken Over Tourism Marketing


The spectacular Northern Lights. The mountains of Cape Town. The lush greenery of Machu Picchu. These popular sights have long been the fodder for traditional destination marketing strategies. 

But in a digital world where social media connects travelers and homebodies alike, would-be adventurers no longer have to depend on a travel agent’s recommendation for an exciting new trip. To find the perfect setting for their next vacation, they just have to browse Instagram.

How Many People Are on Instagram? 

As of December 2016, 600 million people use Instagram, sharing about 95 million photos and generating 4.2 billion likes per day. Approximately 80 percent of all Instagram users live outside of the U.S., signaling the impressive global presence of this social network.

What Makes Instagram Unique?

It seems like the rise of Instagram  happened overnight. After all, the social network was only founded in 2010, under a decade ago. But today, you can’t form an effective tourism marketing plan without it. What makes this particular social network unique when it comes to tourism and marketing?


 Instagram users are heavily engaged with the content posted on the site. When compared to the engagement rates of other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram blows the competition away. Instagram boasts a 2.3% engagement rate per follower, while Facebook is a distant second at 0.2% per follower. Twitter comes in third at 0.03%. Instagram users interact with content by liking, commenting and sharing at a much higher rate than any other platform.

Geo-Tag Tourism

Secondly, Instagram’s geo-tag feature allows users to search a location and view all of the recent posts shared. By simply scrolling through the feed, users get an unfiltered perspective of what it’s like to visit a destination. Are user-generated posts just as breathtakingly beautiful as the posts of a professional guidebook? Surveys show 48 percent of Instagram users use the network to help pick their next vacation destination, and 35 percent use Instagram to discover new places.

 Millennials Love It 

Finally, Instagram has successfully cornered the market on millennial social media use. Over half of all U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram. 49 percent of these users log in to the platform at least once a day. Tourism marketing companies who are looking towards the future can’t afford to ignore Instagram’s popularity with the younger generation.

It’s Influential: Instagram Serves as a Visual Online Review

A large number of people around the world, especially millennials, depend on Instagram to explore and find new travel destinations. From geo-tagging features to high engagement rates, it’s clear Instagram is the social platform you should target when forming your next tourism marketing strategy. But why is Instagram viewed as such a dependable resource?

Think about this: 84 percent of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. Instagram posts from everyday users act as a visual online review for that location.

In fact, Instagram users would much rather hear the opinion of another consumer than a branded marketing message from a large corporation. 32 percent of consumers trust a stranger’s review over traditional advertising messages.

If Instagram users are going to part with their hard-earned money and their coveted vacation time to take a trip, they want to make sure they’re traveling to a destination they’ll love. What better way to do that than by checking out what other users have to say on Instagram?

It’s Convenient: Instagram Now Offers Instant Book Buttons

Instagram used to only offer users a visual experience – no outbound links and no advertisements. But Instagram has adapted to accommodate the tourism market, making it more and more realistic to use the social platform for marketing in the tourism industry.

Instead of simply scrolling through their image feed, users can now take the next step and click “book now” to make their dream trip a reality. The rush of excitement users feel when they see an image that appeals to them? That excitement can be channeled into finalizing their travel plans.

What Can Your Brand Do to Capitalize on Instagram’s Tourism Marketing Takeover?

Out of all the tourism trends that come and go, you can trust that Instagram’s popularity and influence is here to stay. Use these two central tactics in your tourism marketing plan to capitalize on this social network’s unbelievable power:

Curate User-Generated Content

Authentic user-generated content (UGC) helps other users imagine themselves in the same location, snapping and posting similar photos. Consumers trust user-generated content much more than branded messaging, and it shows up in conversion rates: using UGC in a campaign or on a website results in a 29 percent higher conversion rate. Prospective travelers want to see user-generated content – a smart tourism marketer will use this as their main tool.

Tap into Influencer Marketing 

You can grow a location or a brand’s visibility by partnering with an Instagram travel influencer who has already built a significant reach. According to Business Insider, Wanaka, a small resort town on the South Island in New Zealand, partnered with Instagram influencers who shared gorgeous photos of the region’s landscape. The immediately saw a 14 percent increase in overseas travel.

Want to learn more about how to find the best user-generated content to further your tourism marketing strategy? Are you interested in pinpointing the ideal Instagram travel influencers for your campaign? Request a Pixlee Demo today.

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